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Can Weight Loss Surgery Reverse Diabetes?

Nov 29, 2019

weight loss surgery diabetesPatients who chose to undergo bariatric surgery do so for a number of reasons. Though the physical results of weight loss surgery are often the most obvious, the benefits of weight loss as a result of bariatric surgery go far below surface level.


Obesity-related health conditions , including heart disease, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, diabetes and even some cancers are a real concern. In patients who have type 2 diabetes, obesity is often the cause of their disease. When you are overweight, the excess body weight causes strain on the pancreas, impacting its ability to produce insulin, resulting in insulin resistance that leads to type 2 diabetes. 


Diabetes rates have skyrocketed in America in the last 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control, due in part to the spiking obesity rates. More than 100 million adults in America are living with diabetes or prediabetes —  and as many as 90 percent of people living with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, according to The Obesity Society. Even more startling — the American Diabetes Association estimates that 8.1 million Americans are living with undiagnosed diabetes. Left untreated, high blood sugar resulting from diabetes can cause kidney damage, liver failure and even death.


Weight loss surgery as a treatment for diabetes


There is good news in the fight against type 2 diabetes. Studies show that losing even a small percentage of excess body fat reduces a person’s risk for developing diabetes. For patients who have already been diagnosed with the disease, weight loss can decrease dependency on diabetes medication. 


The American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) recognize weight loss surgery as an effective treatment option to reduce complications associated with type 2 diabetes. 


The impact of bariatric surgery on diabetes is two-fold. Not only does surgery help a person lose weight; it may also affect hormones that control how the body responds to insulin and blood sugar. 


In a 2018 joint report, ADA and EASD recommend recommend bariatric surgery as a means of controlling hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) in patients who have type 2 diabetes. For patients who are unable to control their blood sugar with diet, exercise and medication alone, weight loss surgery can help. 

According to the ADA’s 2018 Standards of Medical Care in diabetes, bariatric weight loss surgery is:


● Recommended for any patient with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, regardless of their A1C.
● Recommended for patients whose BMI falls between 35 and 39 if lifestyle changes and medication alone are unable to control A1C levels.
● Considered an option for people with a BMI between 30 and 34.9 if medications (including insulin) are unable to regulate A1C.


A healthy body weight is essential in both the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. Weight loss surgery may not be a cure for diabetes, but research has shown that diabetic patients who choose bariatric surgery see a marked improvement in blood sugar levels. 


If you are overweight or obese and have been diagnosed with diabetes, or you have a family history of diabetes, contact Nicholson Clinic today to learn more about weight loss surgery as an option to reduce your risk. 

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